Victoria plans to massage our writing muscles with ekphrasis, a rhetorical exercise inspired by artwork. The most famous poem – and you are not restricted to writing poetry in response to Victoria’s prompt – is Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn.
Just to jump-start the flow of our creative juices this evening, here is a sonnet by Rainer Marie Rilke (1875-1926), Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist. This poem is the second most famous example of ekphrasis.
There are many stunning features to Archaic Torso of Apollo. It reads like a prayer and yet it is one delivered to a dead and broken god. Despite the fragmentation, there is a suggestion of wholeness. And, perhaps most striking, we are somewhat surprised by the turn the end takes.
Archaic Torso of Apollo
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,
gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.
Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:
would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
– Rainer Marie Rilke
Your invitation to join us!
Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is sponsored by The Bardo Group and hosted by Victoria Slotto from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on May 28. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to The Bardo Group blog. If you find Mister Linky too cumbersome to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section. Victoria and I will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well to comment and encourage. Link to The Bardo Group blog HERE.
© 2014, Victoria Slotto portrait, all rights reserved; Rilke poem and Michell translation and bookcover, Steven Mitchell and Random House Book Publishers; Rilke portrait is in the public domain.